After fielding Amar Singh and Jaya Prada from Fatehpur Sikri and Bijnore, respectively, Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) surprised BJP by admitting Rakesh Tikait of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) and announcing his candidature from Amroha seat.
Tikait’s joining RLD is morale booster for Ajit Singh, who was on the backfoot fearing loss of his Muslim-Jat combination of votes to BJP in western UP after the Muzaffarnagar riots.
For Ajit Singh, clearance of Jat reservation by the Central cabinet came at a good time to pacify the Jats after their resentment in wake of Muzaffarnagar riots. “The natural fight of both RLD and BKU have been for the issues of farmers and our ideology is also same. To make that fight for farmers more fruitful, I have joined RLD,” Rakesh Tikait said.
He also admitted that Jat votes were again returning to RLD after clearance of Jat reservation. Tikait’s elder brother Naresh Tikait is Chaudhary of Baliyan khap, the most dominating khap of western UP and his support for RLD could make a difference to the party in various Lok Sabha seats including Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Baghpat and Meerut. Ajit Singh is contesting from Baghpat.
Rakesh’s entry in RLD could be a setback for BJP which was sure of Jat support after the Muzaffarnagar riots. For attracting Rakesh Tikait, BJP president Rajnath Singh had unveiled a statue of his father Mahendra Singh Tikait in Fatehpur Sumali village of Amroha district on June 4 last year and had addressed a kisan mahapanchayat there.
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BJP spokesperson Chandra Mohan denied that Jat voters were going back to RLD. “Only BJP has fought for the issues of farmers in true sense while other parties have used farmers for politics only. Jats of western UP will not forget the response of UP and Central government in Muzaffarnagar riots and hence will remain with BJP.”
RLD state president Munna Singh Chauhan said, “Tikait’s joining will strengthen our agitation for farmers issues.”
Another party leader said, “Tikait’s induction in RLD matters a lot for the party. On various occasions, RLD planned any protest on the issue of farmers in western UP, ruling party— either SP, BJP and BSP— tipped BKU to hold the agitation a day earlier there to spoil our programme. Now there will be no such obstructions for RLD,” he said.
Earlier, RLD president Ajit Singh and general secretary Jayant Chadhary had held various public meetings in western UP after Muzaffarnagar riots to re-consolidate its vote bank. On Thursday, Ajit Singh was impressed as the large number of Jat youths turned up at his rally in Chhaprauli. “This Jat reservation factor is for the youths and next generation. None of us sitting on stage will benefit from it,” he said at the rally.